October 16th, 2012

Debate starts on NDP's “Medicines for All” bill

Bill C-398 would facilitate the delivery of affordable medicines to developing countries

Today marks the first hour of debate at Second Reading of Private Members’ Bill C-398, An Act to Amend the Patent Act (drugs for international humanitarian purposes), which would ensure life-saving medicine gets to people who need them most in developing countries.

Bill C-398, sponsored by NDP MP Hélène Laverdière (Laurier—Ste-Marie), would modify legislation affecting Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR). CAMR, adopted unanimously by Parliament in 2004, allows for the export of generic versions of pharmaceuticals to developing countries in order to tackle HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other public health crises.

However in practice, CAMR has proved to be too mired in red tape for generic drug companies and developing countries to use. “We urgently need to reform CAMR,” said Laverdière. “This bill is one tool we can use to address the global AIDS crisis and other devastating public health crises in developing countries.”

Laverdière expressed confidence that Bill C-398 would find support from MPs on all sides of the House. “Over the past year we have worked hard to bring together all stakeholders, including NGOs, the generic industry, and the brand-name pharmaceutical industry, to find a solution to fix CAMR. This is a great opportunity for Parliamentarians to support life-saving legislation and to improve the lives of countless people.”